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Articulation Therapy

Articulation Therapy, For Parents, Little Friends

Mirror Neuron: The Science of Sight in Speech


“Look at me.”

“Watch my mouth.”

“Eyes, please.”


How many times a day do you say this? Is it one or two million?

It’s a large number to be sure, but let’s talk about the science behind why.
The why is SO important in our field- both to us, and to our families. The why is what keeps us on track with evidence-based practice. The why is also what helps us get buy-in and home carryover.


Enter: The Mirror Neuron

When people watch an action being performed, their brain begins to process it as though they were performing the action themselves. Let’s break it down.

Person 1: picks up a glass of water, “zone 1” of their brain lights up
Person 2: watches person 1 pick up a glass of water, “zone 1” of their brain also lights up

Person 2: throws a ball, “zone 2” of their brain lights up
Person 1: watches person 2 throw a ball, “zone 2” of their brain lights up


It. is. SO. COOL.

This applies directly to our therapy. When your kiddo watches your mouth produce a proper /f/, or watches your tongue lateralize while chewing, or watches your hands sign “car”… their little brains begin to light up as though they were performing the action themselves.

It’s that simple! Seeing is doing. (kinda)

Tell your colleagues. Tell your parents. Tell your mama. Get those eyeballs on you when teaching a skill – whether it’s related to speech, language, or feeding. If they are watching, they are (fingers crossed) attending and therefore learning.

Besides, throwing out cool terms like “mirror neuron” will not only educate… it will impress. You can even direct them to this article on the American Psychological Association’s (APA) website.


P.S. If you would like an easy FREE handout to give parents of late talkers that emphasizes the importance of children watching our mouths when modeling words, as well as strategies to achieve their attention, click here.


Yay, science!

Articulation Therapy, Feeding, For Parents, Generally SpeechyThings, Language Therapy, Little Friends

Parent Roadmap to Therapy : Keeping Families in the Loop


Photo By: Sylwia Bartyzel via

Think back to (insert number here) years ago when you were a young therapist. Now take it back to your CFY… and then grad school.. and then undergrad… and then back to a day before you knew anything about cueing hierarchies, Brown’s stages, or the alveolar ridge. That is where most of our parents and families are.

Let’s clue them in and teach the parents… not just the kids.

It’s easy to forget just how much we, as speech therapists, actually know. We can get lost in professional jargon and in our own thoughts during therapy. Sure, WE know why you chose that activity and the level at which you’re cueing your kiddo to answer a question…. but our families don’t. If they are present in the session, they will likely miss many of the nuances of your therapy.

There are 3 people who should always know a child’s goals: you, the child, and their caregiver.

When everyone works as a team, knows their job, and knows the goal… we are a cohesive unit. Of course there are exceptions, but this trifecta brain-share is the ideal. This way everyone can see the big picture and home programming is no longer a chore- it has a very specific purpose.

I recently had a chat with a ROCKSTAR parent. She is all on board with treatment and so supportive of both me and her sweet kiddo. I realized one day we had been in our groove for so long that I needed to check in with her and remind her of the big picture. In this  case, our little guy is a late talker. We have been working on songs with gestures, vocalizing during play, and adding a few signs to our expressive vocabulary. But I needed to remind mom WHY. WHY we needed to start with gross motor imitation and vocal play. WHY we weren’t hitting it hard and demanding words from him. WHY WHY WHY.

Of course, we can always ask parents if they have any questions…

but you can’t ask questions about things you don’t know exist.


(i.e. cueing hierarchies, Brown’s stages, or the alveolar ridge)

It’s our job to put ourselves in the parent’s shoes (or the child’s, depending on the situation) and anticipate their needs and questions. Some parents may feel like it’s not their place to question our methods… even though maybe they don’t understand why we’re having their child do something that seems counterintuitive to them. Some may just feel so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start.

We are part therapist, part playmate, and part hand-holder.

It’s easy to forget that we literally have a masters degree in COMMUNICATION disorders. We should be *awesome* at communicating… but we’re also human. I’m sure we could all take a little more time to explain the intricate process of speech, language, and feeding development now and then.
(OH DARN, we have to talk more about the most wonderful field on the planet? )


Articulation Therapy

Strategies for Strong Speech

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but children in speech therapy can be difficult to understand.
(I know, I know. Captain obvious is here to preach to the choir.)
Whether they present with an articulation disorder, phonological processes, dysarthria, or anything in between… they just might benefit from my “punching it out” strategy. It has become my go-to magic fix for a bunch of my kiddos and my hope is that you may find it beneficial too.

I started using this strategy because I notice so many of my kids tend to “mush” or skip right over those pesky medial consonants. Whether they’re gliding or omitting- it really impacts intelligibility. I wanted to come up with a way for them to easily understand the concept of “hard articulatory contact.”

I wanted something that could lend itself to a visual, a hand gesture, and a catchy little saying. That way it’s easy for both my kiddos AND my parents to understand and remember.

Enter: “PUNCH IT OUT!”



When we punch it out, we use our fists like boxers to make our sounds SO STRONG! It’s amazing some of the phonemes my kids are able to place back in their words once they remember to use their strong sounds. Final consonant deletion and weak syllable deletion, beware! It turns “wayer” into “water” and “kaoo” into “kangaroo”. It’s awesome!



In addition to “punching it out” we also talk about speaking slowly. When our friends speak slow (and we support them by speaking slowly too), they have more time to think about their good speech sounds.


Sometimes, if a kiddo needs some extra EXTRA support we talk about speaking slow like Flash from Zootopia. (I have a picture of his cute slothy self in my therapy room as well.) If your turtle isn’t enough, Flash should definitely drive home the concept of slow speech if nothing else will. It can be hard to take our time talking… but it’s a necessary discomfort.

These two strategies- punching it out and slow speech- are my two most frequent for speech therapy. I know nothing is a cure-all and every child requires individualized treatment… but I’ll be darned if these don’t help most of my kids.

If you want access to these visual supports you can check out my Visual Starter Pack. I hope some of your kids respond to these cues and you guys enjoy working on your left hook in the process. 😉